Fit-It-Fred: Kitchen Renovation

This post is a little different than most fix-it posts. Nothing was really broken. The kitchen was just dated. So maybe its style was broken. The only fix to bad style is updating. Just ask the fashion trends of the early 90s. Think Zubaz pants and Hypercolor t-shirts.

In this post I will go through how we managed to update our kitchen on a fairly small budget.

When we moved into our house a few years ago the kitchen was showing it wear. It was a big space, and had many of the things we were looking for, but it had been several years since it had been updated.  It was obvious that decorating styles have changed in the last 20 plus years. The space was in need of some TLC. We were, and still are, not sure exactly what we want to do with the kitchen. We have some big plans for it, but they are several years down the road. In the meantime, we decided to spend a little money to update portions of the kitchen to make it slightly more modern.

updated kitchen
The kitchen says 90s. What does the rooster say?

The color palette and textures were bad. The wallpaper was in good shape, but was dated. The soffit above the cabinets was out of style; both shape and color-wise. The cabinet and drawer pulls were original to the house. The countertop was just like the pulls. Old and ugly. The window coverings fit in well. The valance took everything up a notch. It was custom-made and ugly.

One thing the kitchen had going for it is that the original builder used quality materials, so most items were still in very good condition. Even if they were unsightly. The quality construction had its downside, though. Like the fact the countertop was glued to the cabinets. Then screwed to the cabinets. Ugh. In fact, almost everything in the room was fastened solid enough to withstand a severe assault with a large hammer. Trust me, I know from experience. Nothing like trying to be gentle while wielding the largest hand tools in my garage.

So what projects did I undertake?


As I said, it was glued to the cabinets. After finding a putty knife blade for my oscillating saw I was able to chisel the counter off the cabinets with minimal damage. It took some cleanup afterwards to prep the cabinets for new counters, but it could have been worse. We did not install anything fancy as an upgrade. We have some long term plans for the space that will require new counters and didn’t want to buy high-end now only to replace it in a few years.

kithen update counters
The original counter, with faux leather texture.

Instead we chose to go with HD laminate. It looks nice, is relatively durable and modern, and best of all–it doesn’t break the bank. The other nice thing about it is that I can cut and install it myself. With that being said, the total cost for our new countertop, after sale prices and discounts was $230.


The cabinets are solid, but the appearance was dated. We did not want to replace the cabinets, so we looked at a couple key areas to help their appearance. The first area was to replace the drawer and door pulls. The original ones were dated and mounted in the center of the doors. We found smaller, modern pulls and installed them in more traditional locations. The holes from the old pulls needed to be filled and stained to match the cabinets, but otherwise this portion of the project was relatively easy. The cost of the pulls, wood filler, and stain was $115.

kitchen update cabinets
The oddly placed old pulls, and the maroon soffit.

The other area was the soffit above the cabinets. It was well built and solid, but it was also ugly. It took some time, but I was able to successfully remove it without any major damage. However, removing it led to two more small projects. I had to install a new light over the sink, since the old one was mounted in the soffit. I also needed to box in the ventilation hood ductwork. The sheetrock needed was left over from another project, so that was free. The light, including the LED bulb, was $30.

kitchen update pulls
The cabinet updates and the new countertop.


The wallpaper was ugly and dated, so it needed to go. Easier said than done. Anyone who has spent much time removing wallpaper knows how much work it is. There was one big surprise with the wallpaper. One entire wall of lower cabinets was installed after the wallpaper. So in order to remove the paper I needed to remove the lower buffet cabinets.

update kitchen walls
What lovely wallpaper and valence

After all the paper was removed, I needed to skim coat all the walls with sheetrock mud to make them smooth and flat again. Then we re-textured the walls and painted them. We also had to repaint the ceiling. Several spots had been repaired after the removal of the soffit. It was easier to repaint the entire ceiling rather than trying to blend in the spots. The cost of the all the paint, sheetrock mud, and wallpaper remover was $75.

update kitchen walls and window
Our new textured, painted wall

The finishing touches

Not all the outlets were GFCI, and some were worn and loose. I updated all the outlets in the kitchen so they would meet code and be safe. I even added some above the cabinets so we could install some accent lighting. I also replaced all the switches with the “decorative” style ones for a slightly updated appearance. The change was small but noticeable. The cost of the electrical updates was $25.

update kitchen electrical
Part of our updated electrical in the kitchen

Instead of paint, we wanted an accent of some sort in the open wall cabinets above the buffet. After some deliberation and shopping we decided that stamped tin panels would provide us the desired effect. We found some 2′ x 4′ sheets of the tiles intended for ceiling use. Since they were going to be glued to the wall behind shelves they seemed like they would work well. After installed, they gave us the effect we wanted. Best of all, they were on sale. Total cost for the tiles and adhesive was $80.

update kitchen wallpaper
The old boring wallpaper backsplash
upadte kitchen backsplash
The new background with style

The last thing we did was not really a renovation. We added an Ikea island to create some additional seating and work space. The kitchen was originally an eat-in kitchen, but that was not something we wanted to use. We eat our meals in the dining room, so a table in the kitchen would be wasted space. The island was the perfect finishing touch to the space. It gave us the seating we wanted while being a height comfortable enough to work on. And the cost was only $360.

The total cost for our kitchen update was $555 plus the cost of the island, for a grand total of just over $900. While we still may not have the most modern kitchen, it is a huge update over what we had when we started this project. Best of all, the space is extremely functional for our family.

Do you have any rooms you have updated on a budget? Any tips and tricks to maximize your home improvement dollars? Let us know!